What is the difference between ser and estar?

Ser? Estar? ¡Ay caramba! One of the first challenges you bump into when studying Spanish is how to tackle ser versus estar. The bad news is they both translate as “to be” in English so that makes things a little spicy. The good news? Knowing nothing, you’ve got a 50/50 chance of getting it right. Could be worse! To […]

Learning in the Time of Covid

“My classes have been a life saver” “I feel a sense of community” “It is something I look forward to every week” I feel like I am really doing something for myself “I can see see the progress I am making” These are just a few comments we have received from our students during these […]

How to Make Language Apps Work for You

Struggling to learn a new language with popular apps? If you are frustrated by your progress thus far, you are not alone, and it’s not your fault. Apps are not meant to be an exclusive teaching tool. They don’t work that way. They are meant to supplement in-person or virtual instruction so you can strengthen […]

Spanish Expressions with Tener

One thing that can be a bit of a curve ball for the beginning Spanish learner is that certain expressions use the verb tener (to have), in places where English would use the verb “to be”. For example, to say things like “I am 25 years old” or “I am hungry”, in Spanish you actually say “I […]

Learning Russian with Russian Cinema

A major motivator for many Russian students is the desire to experience Russian culture more fully. However, sometimes we can lose sight of that. Russian is for sure a difficult language to master. The grammar is completely different and there’s so much vocabulary to remember. Because of that, many beginner Russian students spend the bulk […]

Easy Tips for Etiquette Abroad

While fall may be fast approaching, summer is not over yet! If you have an upcoming trip abroad, here are some tips to show your hosts that you have put in some time to learn about the country, culture, language and customs. While most folks understand that we are newbies to the country and will give us slack, […]

Why is there a Stuffed Gorilla in the Reception Area?

Meet Koko. Koko was a real Gorilla (July 4, 1971- June 19, 2018). Koko was taught sign language by her instructor and caregiver, Francine Patterson. By the end of her life, she is said to have had a vocabulary of 1000 ASL signs and was able to understand 2000 words of spoken English. Were her […]

LANGUAGE, DIALECT, REGIONALISM… WHAT’S THE DIFF?

LANGUAGE? DIALECT? REGIONALISM? ACCENT? PIDGIN? PATOIS? CREOLE? WHAT’S THE DIFF? This is a question that came up during one of our daily staff lunches and we had a good ol’ time geeking out on getting to the bottom of this question. So what is the difference exactly? Dialect/Accent /Patois/Regionalism: We all have a dialect. Our […]

Is it Fall or Autumn?

Today it’s a matter of regional usage (e.g. North America vs Great Britain) but how did we get here? Pre-16th century, the season was known as “hærf-est”, basically “harvest”. Interesting to note that this root is still in play in modern Germanic languages (Dutch herfst, German Herbst and Scottish hairst). The word “autumn” is thought to have come from the […]

Finding Your Second Language

Finding your second language: An invitation to compare yourself to…yourself There is a wonderful article in the New Yorker about hyperpolyglots (those who speak at least 6 languages) that is worth a look-see. Hyperpolyglots are basically the Olympic-level champions of language acquisition. A fascinating world to say the least! And just like their athletic counterparts, they have […]

Spotlight on Russia

The World Cup is upon us and the eyes of the world will be glued to their TVs over the coming months to watch the games taking place in Russia. That said, here’s a little linguistic trivia on where the word Russia likely comes from: While much of the ancestry of modern Russians can be […]

April – The Month of Opening

Like so many words in our native language, we generally don’t think about where they come from and what their meaning and, perhaps, true spirit is. Take a look at the words for “to open” and “April” in a couple of romance languages: aprire/aprile (Italian), abrir/abril (Spanish/Portuguese). Notice that the letters p and b are a similar mouth movement.  […]

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

As we celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, we thought we’d reflect not just on the “luck of the Irish” but how they and other cultures celebrate the idea of luck. China: Is it lucky number 7 or number 8?  Depends on who you ask! In western cultures, we like number 7. Probably because the ancient […]

Happy Lunar New Year!

Lunar New Year is just around the corner and you will start to see signs around the city wishing people a “Happy Chinese New Year”. What many people don’t realize, but what our Korean or Vietnamese language teachers could tell you: Lunar new year is not just celebrated in Chinese communities. In Vietnam the lunar new […]

Grammar – How to Learn It, Use It and Maybe Even Love It!

If you are one of the many people who have tried out language programs that promise “no pesky verb conjugations or noun declensions” but find yourself wanting to figure out the patterns, you’re not alone! Poor grammar has gotten such a bad rap that a no-grammar approach has become a marketing catchphrase. How did that […]

Sardinia: More Than Just a Beach Vacation

Sardinia is best known for its beautiful, pristine beaches, its stunning landscape, and the Italian glitterati who descend in high season. But the island also offers a fascinating history that dates back dozens of millennia. The earliest settlers are estimated to have arrived as long as 50,000 years ago, and from 1500 to 500 BC […]

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela!

July is a month of filled with independence celebrations. Rather than going for the usual suspects (Bastille Day! 4th of July!), in honor of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on July 18 (he would have been 99), we thought we would take a moment to shine a spotlight on the linguistic richness of Mr. Mandela’s home country, South Africa. First […]

Are we fluent yet? Taking the Zen Road to language learning.

(Image Source: pixabay.com) [EZ] Let’s just get this out of the way right now, learning a language takes, well, a while.  If you put yourself into the proverbial language learning car and after 5 minutes ask, “are we fluent yet?” I can tell you right now, this is going to be a long and arduous […]

“Fast, Easy, Fun and Free!”

[EZ] If you’re like many of us, you have a foreign language story. More often than not, it’s an unsuccessful experience in high school or college that left you with a few words of French or Spanish, and the depressing feeling that you were the problem. You just didn’t seem to “get” a foreign language. […]

Learning Vocabulary

(Image source: pixabay.com) [CW] Learning vocabulary is obviously an important part of learning a language. In some ways, it’s also the most boring part, because it really just comes down to memorization. And memorization can be tedious. But memorization is really the first part of the process; to move new vocabulary from your short term […]

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